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Lifeline for teenage cancer victim Mark

A TEENAGE cancer patient in need of a life-saving bone marrow transplant has been thrown a lifeline by his brother after tests revealed a perfect match.

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FLASHBACK ... Some of Mark’s friends are pictured having their heads shaved last month.

A TEENAGE cancer pa-tient in need of a life-saving bone marrow transplant has been thrown a lifeline by his brother after tests revealed a perfect match.

Mark McMurray, a 17-year-old apprentice vehicle mechanic, was diagnosed with leukaemia and taken to Manchester's Christie Hospital in November after tests revealed the cancerous blood disease.

While Mark, of Stanhill Road, Oswaldtwistle, was undergoing initial chemotherapy treatments, family members were being tested for bone marrow compatibility. And they are now rejoicing after his brother David, 25, who helps sister Nichola McMurray-Devenney run the family haulage firm, proved to be an ideal match.

Nichola, 26, said: "Mark is doing really well at the moment. He is allowed home at the weekend if he is well enough and he is in remission. It will be more of a relief once he's had the transplant, which is scheduled for February. Only 15 per cent of people who need transplants find them, so we are very lucky. David will have marrow taken from his hip and once the transplant's done, Mark will have to stay in isolation for up to eight weeks."

The plight of Blackburn Rovers fan Mark has united the close-knit Stanhill community in which he lives. Just days after his diagnosis, seven of his pals raised £500 for Christie's by having their heads shaved, so Mark wouldn't feel uncomfortable when he underwent chemotherapy. And on Boxing Day nearly £2,000 was raised at the Stanhill pub after landlord Eddie Chatburn and regulars decided to hold an auction to raise more cash for Mark's hospital.

Eddie, 32, said: "We are all close here within the community, so we thought it was important to do something for Mark. Christie's is close to my heart anyway, as my mum died of cancer."

Watches, jewellery, a signed Blackburn Rovers football as well as other goodies were auctioned, and a pub regular who had not had his hair cut for 18 years raised £200 by shaving it all off.

Nichola said: "Everybody has been really kind. I think Mark's illness has really brought it home to a lot of people that although you don't think it will ever happen to you and yours, it really does."